Councillor Andrew Baggott, Leader of Basildon Council, hosted a live Q&A event at the George Hurd Centre, in Audley Way.

Meet the Leader gives residents the chance to ask questions about how their money is being spent and what is being done to improve their area.

A summary of matters discussed during the meeting on Thursday 22 November is available below:


Topic: I'm very worried about antisocial behaviour in and around Basildon town centre - it is very intimidating and makes you fear for your and your family's safety. What is the council doing about it?

Response: I'm a fan of the broken window theory - we have to show no tolerance for this behaviour at any level. Allowing this behaviour to go unchallenged creates an environment that breeds further crime and disorder, including more serious crimes. We need highly visible policing that tackles this behaviour and sets examples. The council is seeking to influence the police and the owners of the town centre and the shopping centre management. I have met with Roger Hirst, the Police and Crime Commissioner and pressed the case for more policing resources for Basildon and I will continue to do that.


Topic: Why don't you use the vacant M&S store in Basildon town centre for a homeless shelter?

Response: M&S don't own the building, but they are still paying rent to the owners. Currently it is cheaper for them to keep it empty. We have ideas for use of the building if it is not to be commercially rented any time soon. For example, I think it would make a great new business incubation centre.


Topic: Developers of land at Gardiners Lane South are making life for existing residents hell. We feel bullied. How can you help us?

Response: We will use our influence and take up specific problems on your behalf. You can also make representations through the formal consultation we are conducting on the Local Plan.


Topic: What happened to the community wardens that patrolled our estates?

Response: These were funded by contributions from tenants. As resources became stretched, funding was withdrawn.


Topic: A new play area was put in at Barrington Gardens but kids won't go there as they don't feel safe. That's bad planning, play areas should be put where the community feels safe and where they will be well-used. How was that decision made?

Response: There should always be consultation through ward councillors and with local communities before decisions are made about siting play areas and other community facilities.